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It’s unfortunate, but some Miami residents who have fallen on hard times have been further victimized by scammers.

These predators seek out those consumers who are desperate to save their homes from foreclosure. When people are in dire financial straits, they become easy prey for those seeking to profit from their circumstances. Consumers should remain alert to possible foreclosure scams like the following:

— Skimming Equity

Sometimes a “buyer” almost magically appears when foreclosure is looming. He or she may promise to rescue you from certain financial doom by paying off your mortgage or assuming the monthly payments. Scammers may promise to sell your property and pay you a lump sum if you move out and deed the property over to them. Then they rent it out, pocket the money without paying the mortgage and the lender forecloses.

Never deed your property over to any individual or entity that promises it is only a temporary measure until your home can be refinanced. Once you give up the deed to a property, the new owner can encumber it with loans and even treat you as if you were a tenant paying rent. You can even wind up evicted.

— Balloon Payments

Balloon payments are another way that consumers can get ripped off. It sounds good at first, because the lender steps in to save your property from foreclosure by refinancing it a lower monthly note, However, those loan terms may specify that you are only paying the interest every month. When the loan term ends, the entire amount borrowed may become due in a single lump sum payment. Failing to make the balloon payment could cause you to lose your home in foreclosure.

— Credit Counseling Agencies

Sometimes, consumers are solicited by “counseling agencies” that charge them to negotiate payment plans or arrange sales before foreclosure. These are all things the debtor or his legal representative can do without costly assistance.

To learn more about available options, consumers in financial distress and facing foreclosure can seek advice from a Miami legal professional.

Source: FindLaw, “Watch Out for Foreclosure Scams” Dec. 31, 2014